Rubies are one of the most striking colored stones used in jewelry. Their symbolism, rarity, and durable properties make them a fantastic choice for engagement rings. If you’re thinking of getting off the beaten track and opting for a stylish ruby engagement ring, we’ve got you covered.
In this article, we’ve gathered all the Ruby facts that you should know before you buy, including a little bit of inspiration to get your excited about finding the perfect Ruby engagement ring.
- Are Rubies Good Stones for Engagement Rings?
- Meanings Associated with Rubies
- What to Consider When You Buy a Ruby Engagement Ring
- Red Flags to Look for When Shopping for a Ruby
- How to Choose a Ruby Engagement Ring
- Best Ruby Engagement Ring Styles
Are Rubies Good Stones for Engagement Rings?
The deep glow of a ravishing Ruby has been sought after for jewelry for many reasons, but one of the main reasons why they are a good choice for engagement rings is their durability. The durability of your engagement ring is a major consideration, as you’ll want to cherish for life and even beyond, if you plan on passing it on as an heirloom. This is why it is important to take the durability, or ‘hardness’ in jewelers’ terms, of your chosen stone into account.
The ‘hardness’ of a stone is measured on the Mohs scale from one to ten. A stone with a Mohs hardness of 1 can be scratched with your fingernail and a masonry drill can mark a stone with a Mohs hardness of 8.5. Diamonds take the top position with a Mohs rating of 10 and rubies don’t fall too far behind with a Mohs rating of 9 (known by their mineral name, as corundum).
Rubies are rare because of the finicky geological conditions that they form under. The stones need mostly aluminum and oxygen to form, as well as the perfect amount of chromium – the rare element that gives rubies their red hue. Any other extra elements (even just a little) can discolor the gem.
Difficult forming conditions make perfect rubies (such as the prized, deep red “Pigeon’s Blood” ruby) some of the rarest gemstones on earth. The scale of perfection can also mean that some high-quality stones can actually be more expensive than diamonds.
Like diamonds, high quality rubies are extremely rare, which gives them an air of clout and high value that some couples like in their engagement rings.
Meanings Associated with Rubies
Rubies are prized in many cultures and have been highly regarded by royalty throughout history. This is why there are so many significant meanings tied to rubies.
They are thought to bring health, love, peace, and wisdom; they are a token of guidance and knowledge and, of course, are symbolic of love and romance.
Rubies also has the symbolism that comes with their color – red. These include power, passion, love and excitement.
All of these meanings are not only appropriate but perfect for engagement and marriage.
What to Consider When You Buy a Ruby Engagement Ring
Like diamonds, rubies are priced according to the 4cs of cut, color, clarity, and carat. For rubies, the most important are generally believed to be color and cut.
1- Color and Cost
It should come as no surprise that color is the most valuable characteristic in a ruby. Top-quality rubies are purely medium-dark red, but these are incredibly rare. They’re known as pigeon-blood rubies.
Most rubies possess secondary hues. A touch of secondary purple can be found in more top-quality gems, but too much purple will make a ruby less valuable. Secondary orange hues are also generally less valued. As with the hue, the saturation of the color is also taken into account.
To be considered the finest quality, a ruby’s color cannot be too dark or too light as too much pigment makes it hard for light to shine through and sparkle; too little and the stone is thought of as pink rather than a ruby.
Having said all that, ultimately, when it comes to color, the most desirable colored ruby is the one that you like the most.
2- Color Zoning
Color in a ruby is unlikely to be equal throughout. Some parts of the stone will have naturally lighter and darker sections. Gem cutters should orient the stone to bring out the best color in the table (top) of the stone.
If you can see some color zoning such as bands or spots from the side, don’t worry too much about it. In general, if you can’t see the color zoning from the distance of your eye to your hand then it should be fine. But if color zoning does catch your eye from afar, you may want to keep looking.
3- Ruby Cut
A random selection of rubies with different cuts. See them here.
Cut is particularly important because of the shapes that rubies take in nature. The most common are oval and cushion cuts with steep-cut pavilions and rectangular or square facts. It is possible to have a ruby cut in round, triangular, emerald-cut, pear, and marquise shapes, but these shapes are more difficult to find in larger sizes, so a high-quality ruby in this cut can be more expensive.
Rubies are often enhanced to improve the color of the gemstone, however too many or poorly executed enhancements can affect the stone’s value and durability.
The most common enhancements are heat enhancements that are designed to deepen a stone’s color and improve its appearance. Heat-treated stones are considered valuable, and they don’t require any special care by the wearer.
Surface diffusion on the other hand, uses chemicals in addition to heat to treat the surface color of the ruby. This enhancement doesn’t change the structure of the stone so it will remain durable. However, the ruby should be protected against household chemicals as these can affect the color enhancement leaving you with a paler stone than the one you started with.
Red Flags to Look for When Shopping for a Ruby
Some other enhancements affect the quality and durability of rubies and should be avoided if possible.
Windowing relates to how color is distributed because of a gem that is cut too shallow. Cheaper rubies often exhibit large windows, which means that the color is more intense around the outer edge rather than in the center which is where you want the color. If you see that the color is concentrated around the edges of a ruby, this is a sign of windowing. Remember, you are looking for a ruby that is as uniform in color as possible.
Inclusions are fractures that are inevitable in all stones (even diamonds), and the presence of these will decrease the desirability and price of a stone. In colored stones such as rubies, surface fractures are sometimes filled with glass or lead as an enhancement. This can dramatically decrease the overall value of the stone. Filling also alters the construction of the stone which can compromise its structural durability.
Glass, in particular, is a lot weaker at 5.5 on the Mohs scale which means that glass-filled rubies can be more susceptible to everyday damage. When shopping, look for out for ‘composite’ labels and ask the gemmologist whether this means it has been filled.
How to Choose a Ruby Engagement Ring
All of the factors above play a part in a ruby’s price, so getting to know which of these matter to you will help you purchase a ruby that is within your standard and budget. Keep in mind that a high-quality ruby can cost on average about $1000 per carat (at the least). So, if you come across a perfect ruby with great color, large carat size, an excellent clarity rating, and it’s affordable – it may be too good to be true.
If you can, ask for a certificate from a reputable gem lab such as Gemological Institute of America (GIA); American Gemological Society (AGS), or International Gemological Institute (IGI). Although no common standard rating system exists for rubies, certificates from these institutions should give you information relating to the 4cs and any enhancements which will help you make your choice.
Best Ruby Engagement Ring Styles
Once you have the ins and outs of the stone in mind, you can start thinking about the fun things! Like what sort of ring style you’ll have your ruby set in. Rubies are timeless and can work in any design, but they’re a standout in the styles below.
Vintage Ruby Engagement Ring. Check Price Here
A rich ruby set in a vintage design exudes old-world elegance. Look for milgrain detailing, engraved bands, and marquise patterns. Sharp lines and symmetrical vintage Art Deco styles are perfect for rectangle or square-cut rubies, whereas curved stones are better suited to the curls of Art Nouveau. Don’t forget to ask for an appraisal or certificate of authentication if you are purchasing an antique piece.
Geometric Ruby Engagement Ring. Check Price Here.
For a bride with a bit of edge, a ruby paired with mixed metals and angular design elements will take a ring from classic to cool.
3- Rose Gold
Rose Gold Ruby Engagement Ring. Check Price Here.
Rubies pair well with any fine metal, but their red shade makes them very well-suited to rose gold metals. If you want your ring to look brighter, choose a design that features a stunning ruby center stone that is flanked by two diamonds in a three-stone ring, or a shiny diamond halo.
A ruby ring is an excellent choice if you want to stand out from the crowd with something a little different to traditional diamond engagement rings. With their durability, rarity, value and prestige, as well as symbolism, rubies make for excellent center or accent stones in engagement rings.
If you’re looking for a ruby gemstone or a pre-set ruby engagement ring, we recommend starting your search on James Allen. Known for their high quality designs and stunning gemstones, James Allen has made shopping for high-end jewelry online extremely easy. Check them out here.
We also recommend browsing through Blue Nile’s small but impressive collection of ruby rings here.
For a wider variety, from imitation ruby rings to valuable antique pieces, check out Etsy, a platform where retailers around the world offer their unique creations.